Community members from Mawmihthied bagged the first prize at the Local Chefs Competition, held on Monday at the Mawmihthied Community Hall, organized by the North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS). The competition was held under the theme ‘Enhancing nutritional diversity as a means of supplementing the mid-day meals (MDM) of primary school children using local resources’ as part of the GIZ project.
MDM cooks, cooks from the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and youths from other four communities (Nongtraw, Umdiengpoh, Laitsohpliah and Dewlieh) under East Khasi Hills district also took part in the competition and produced a total of 37 dishes. A recipe book will also be published for distribution among communities across the state.
Diana Kharakor, member of Mawmihthied community and participant at the chefs competition, said, “As parents we have come to know that are many varieties of nutritious edibles that are available in this area. We should take the time to forage and get wild edibles and vegetables from our fields itself to bring home and cook them for our children.” She added, “We should also be clean and tidy as it contributes to our good health.”
“It was a very good experience and I am glad that I could take part in this competition. Here, we are getting the chance to show case our skills at cooking these chemical-free and indigenous ingredients for school children,” Yistina Khongwar, a participant from Umdiengpoh community, said.
Kritika Suratkal, Food and Flavours expert and NESFAS director Melari Nongrum, who judged the competition, applauded the homecooks and chefs who took part in the contest. Suratkal said, “This competition is a great way to get people to be more aware about traditional food and nutrition. Even if it’s a competition, it can be a space for inspiration.”
The winners got the chance to showcase their cooking skills to 150 people again on Tuesday during the MDM Food Festival that was held at the same venue. Community members from the other four participating villages also set up food stalls to sell snacks on the same day.
Block Mission Coordinator of Laitkroh Block S A Allya and cluster coordinators were present during the food festival. Allya said, “Through this programme, we will create an awareness that the community members, especially the MDM cooks, should incorporate local ingredients and wild edibles in the children’s MDM.”
Khrawbok Dkhar, headman of Mawmihthied community, said, “There was a time when we never used any kind of chemical medicines or even fertilizers for that matter and the only we needed were natural remedies. Its time to bring that back again and live life the same way we did in the past.”
On the other hand, Melari Nongrum said, “According to a research, 48/100 children are anemic here in Meghalaya. The government is also working hard to do away with these kind of problems.” “This is the reason why we need to make the MDM more diverse. We need to work hard with the schools and especially the teachers to incorporate these,” she added.